Posted by: dinainsuburbia | June 16, 2009

jam on it

Saturday marked the annual strawberry picking-jam making marathon that I do once strawberry season hits here on Long Island.  This year we went back to Fritz-Lewin Farms in Calverton; the prices are very reasonable, the field is big, and the staff is friendly.  Picking strawberries is hard work- the berries are super low to the ground and hidden amongst weeds and flowers; you really have to squat down low and move all the weeds/flowers out of the way to get to the berries.   

It took us about an hour to pick 8 quarts of berries between the 3 of us- although I’m sure Maddie ate much more than she picked (and most of the berries in her basket had bites taken out of them).


Once home, I started the jam making process.  The strawberries were so ripe, they needed to be processed into jam right away (or frozen); I didn’t see them lasting too long at all.  I used the same recipe I used last year- except this year I tweaked it with a little added lemon zest.  I use a ratio of 2:1, strawberries to sugar.  The most strawberries I recommend doing at in one batch is about 6 cups.  The full 8 quarts of strawberries yielded 13 half-pint jars of jam.


As the berries were so ripe, I found it took about 45 minutes of slow simmering for the jam to set (way longer than the 18-20 minutes suggested in the “official” recipe). Even though the jam does set- it isn’t firm like jelly- there is no added pectin in the jam, and I like the freshness of a jam with only 3 ingredients: berries, sugar, and lemon juice.  



  • 6-7 cups of strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups of white sugar
  • 1/4- 1/3 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon


  • canning pot or large stock pot fitted with a round cake cooling rack
  • tongs
  • 5-6 half-pint ball jars (or 2-3 pint jars) with lids & rings
  • funnel
  • 2 saucers (put in freezer- more on this later)
  • small pot with hot water for lids



Combine sliced strawberries, lemon juice, zest and sugar in a large bowl and allow to macerate for two hours (I add the sugar a little at a time- makes it easier to stir together).


In saucepan bring berry mixture up to a boil and reduce heat to medium and simmer for approximately 20-45 minutes (the more ripe the fruit, the longer it will take to set).  Once set, remove from heat and allow to sit for about 4-5 minutes to allow any foam to come to the top- skim off foam prior to processing.


While the jam is simmering, wash the jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water and get your water to a rolling boil in your stock pot.  Once boiling, I like to put the lids and jars in the boiling water for 5 minutes to make sure they’re sterile, and to bring the jars to temperature (you don’t want to put magma-hot jam in cool jars- asking for a cracking).  

To test the jam, pull one of the saucers out of the freezer and place a teaspoon of jam on the cold saucer- return to freezer for one minute.  After a minute, push the jam with your finger, if done, the surface of the jam will wrinkle.  


Once done, fill the jars with jam and process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Make sure there’s at least 1 1/2″- 2″ of water covering the jars.  Also, make sure you have the cake cooling rack, or extra jar rings, at the bottom of the pot- you don’t want the jars touching the bottom of the pot.  

Allow the jars to cool overnight.  Once cool, check the seal by pressing the lid- there should be no movement and the lid should be depressed.  If they don’t  seal properly, don’t fret- refrigerate and eat within 2 weeks (although, I will say following the above directions I’ve never once had a dud).  

I know it seems like a lot of work, but once you get the hang of it it’s very easy (and very impressive- friends and family will think you’re something out of Little House).




  1. I love strawberry jam. And I so wish we had a u-pick farm near me. Alas I have to buy it at the grocery store. The next best thing I guess.

    My Rhubarb is ready so I bought strawberries at the store this morning. I think I’ll try something new. Strawberry rhubarb.

  2. Hi Dina my name is Lisa Lewin , I wanted to thank you for mentioning our farm in your blog ……..I hope you come back year after year for our berries 😉 I’m sure your jam was delicious 😉

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